The Caltech Robotics Team designs and builds vehicles for various intercollegiate competitions. We most recently participated in the 18th International AUVSI/ONR Underwater Vehicle Competition in San Diego, California, from July 20 through July 26, 2015. The team placed 4th overall out of 37 international competitors. The RoboSub competition challenges us to create an entirely autonomous underwater vehicle that performs realistic missions in an underwater environment including obstacle navigation, identifying and shooting at targets, and manipulating objects with perfect dexterity. See the following link to our 2015 team video.

Click here for the 19th International AUVSI/ONR RoboSub 2016 journal paper and team video.

Two years ago, we competed in AUVSI RoboSub for the first time with our first AUV, "Bruce," who earned us a 7th place spot out of 37 competing teams as well as the "Best New Entry" award with a $500 prize.

Before this, the team competed in the RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops Competition at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in June 2012, placing second overall. We built a four-wheeled remotely controlled rover, challenged with the task of identifying and collecting rocks while traveling over variable rough terrain. We worked across many scientific disciplines to build a rover that had to be operated via a 4G wireless broadband communications system by a team member at Caltech.

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Dory in Water

2015-2016 Caltech Robotics Team

The 2015-2016 Caltech Robotics Team is made up of over 35 undergraduates spanning all of the departments at Caltech. We are divided into four teams: Mechanical, Electrical, Programming, and Fundraising & Outreach. Our faculty advisor is Professor Joel Burdick, the Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering at Caltech.


Mechanical Team

This team designs and manufactures the chassis of the submarine using the principles of hydrostatic stability and hydrodynamics. One of their main responsibilities is to design a sealing system to make sure that the inside of the hull stays dry under twenty feet of water. First, the submarine will be designed using CAD software and then machined using both CNC and hand-operated machining. They also select the propulsion system. Finally, they design the pneumatic system to operate a grabber and torpedo firing system.

Team Lead: Edward Fouad, efouad (at) caltech DOT edu

Electrical Team

This team powers and wires the submarine and provides computing hardware to the programming team. In addition, they design and implement the sonar pinger heading system. The team will implement a serial bus so that each PCB on the sub (eg the sensor input board, the motor/actuator board, etc.) can communicate with each other and the computer easily.

Team Lead: Torkom Pailevanian, torkom (at) caltech DOT edu

Programming Team

This team makes the submarine intelligent and controllable. They program both the low-level microcontroller code and the high-level AI and computer vision code. Their main responsibility is to take the platform provided by the electrical and mechanical teams and mold it to complete the specific tasks required by the competition. For tools, they use C++ on ArchLinux and OpenCV for computer vision.

Team Lead: Kushal Agarwal, kushal (at) caltech DOT edu

Fundraising & Outreach Team

This team raises the funds necessary for the project to complete its objectives. Most of the team's funds come from corporate sponsorships either in monetary or in-kind donations. We forge partnerships between corporations who want to support students to gain real-world engineering experience and motivated students looking to move their engineering knowledge beyond the textbook. In addition, this team works with K-12 students, especially students under-represented in STEM fields, to encourage them to pursue STEM education, especially in robotics.

Team Lead: Jake Larson, jlarson (at) caltech DOT edu

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